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Friday, 27 June 2014
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRO-AUSTRALIAN " THE AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE (AFL) IS THE HIGHEST PROFESSIONAL COMPETITION IN THE SPORT OF AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK GENIUS "
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY The Australian Football League (AFL) is the highest-level professional competition in the sport of Australian rules football. Through the AFL Commission, the AFL also serves as the sport's governing body, and is responsible for controlling the Laws of the Game. The league was founded as the Victorian Football League (VFL) as a breakaway from previous Victorian Football Association (VFA), with its inaugural season commencing in 1897. Originally comprising only teams based in the Australian state of Victoria, the competition's name was changed to the Australian Football League for the 1990 season, after expanding to other states throughout the 1980s.
The league currently consists of 18 teams spread over five states of Australia, although the majority (ten teams) are still based in Victoria. The AFL season currently consists of a pre-season competition (currently branded as the "NAB Challenge"), followed by a 23-round regular (or "home-and-away") season, which runs during the Australian winter (March to September). The top eight teams then play off in a finals series culminating in the AFL Grand Final, which is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground each year. The winning team in the Grand Final is termed the "premiers", and is awarded the premiership cup. The current premiers are the Hawthorn Hawks.
The Victorian Football League was established in 1896 when six of the strongest clubs in Victoria – Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne and South Melbourne – broke away from the established Victorian Football Association to establish the new league. The six clubs invited two more VFA clubs – Carlton and St Kilda – to join the league for its inaugural season in 1897. Among the notable initiatives established in the new league was an annual finalstournament, rather than awarding the premiership directly to the team with the best record through the season; and, the formal establishment of the modern scoring system, in which six points are scored for a goal, and one point is scored for a behind.
Although the Victorian Football League and the Victorian Football Association continued to compete for spectator interest for many years, the VFL quickly established itself as the premier competition in Victoria. In the early years Fitzroy and Collingwood were the dominant teams. Following the arrival of Jack Worrall as coach in 1903, Carlton began a dominating period, during which they won three successive flags from 1906 to 1908; although Worrall was the club secretary, he took on a player management and direction role which is today recognised as the first official coaching job in the league. Essendon won flags in 1911 and 1912, also under Jack Worrall's coaching.
In 1908, the league expanded to ten teams, with Richmond crossing from the VFA and University from the Metropolitan Football Association. University, after three promising seasons, finished last each year from 1911 until 1914, including losing 51 matches in a row; this was in part caused by its' players focus on their studies rather than football, particularly during examinations, and it was partly because the club operated on an amateur basis at a time when player payments were becoming common – and as a result, the club withdrew from the VFL at the end of 1914. University teams now compete in the Victorian Amateur Football Association.
From 1907 until 1914, the VFL premier and the premier of the Adelaide-based South Australian Football League met in a playoff match for the Championship of Australia.
In 1919, the VFL established a seconds/reserves competition to run alongside the senior competition. In 1924 the VFL inaugurated theBrownlow Medal for the player who received the most votes from the umpires for the Best and Fairest player. Richmond won its first Premierships in 1920 and 1921 but Essendon – battlers since their 1912 flag – took over as the dominant team between 1922 and 1926.
In 1925, the VFL expanded from nine teams to twelve, with Footscray, Hawthorn and North Melbourne each crossing from the VFA. North Melbourne and Hawthorn remained very weak in the VFL for a very long period. North Melbourne did not win more than eight games in a season until 1944 and Hawthorn only once won more than seven until 1954. Between them, Hawthorn and North Melbourne finished in last place fifteen of the twenty-nine years from their admittance until 1953. Footscray adapted to the VFL with the most ease of the three clubs, and by 1928 were well off the bottom of the ladder.
Between the years of 1927 and 1930, Collingwood became the first and so far, the only, team to win four successive Premierships. The club also finished the 1929 home-and-away season without losing a game, a feat yet to be repeated. This team became known as "the Machine" because of the organised and consistent way it played. With Premiership victories in 1935 and 1936, the Collingwood Football Club had already won 11 Premierships, four more than the next most successful club, Fitzroy (7).
In the 1930s, Richmond and South Melbourne rivaled Collingwood as the best team. Melbourne, which had won the Premiership in 1926 but fallen off sharply, developed a powerful attacking side that swept all before it between 1939 and 1941 to win three successive flags. Essendon, after a lean decade in the 1930s, enjoyed a dominant period with nine grand final appearances between 1941 and 1951. For more information on how world wars affected the VFL see: The VFL during the World Wars.
In 1946, the VFL established an Under 19s grade of competition, to run alongside the seniors and reserves. In 1951, the McClelland Trophy was established as a prize for the best performing team across all three grades. In 1952, the VFL hosted 'National Day', when all six matches were played outside of Melbourne. Matches were played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Brisbane Exhibition Ground, North Hobart Oval, Albury Sports Ground and Victorian country towns Yallourn and Euroa.
In 1959, the VFL planned the first purpose built mega-stadium, VFL Park (later known as Waverley Park), to give it some independence from the Melbourne Cricket Club, which managed the Melbourne Cricket Ground. VFL Park was planned to hold 155,000 spectators, to make it making it one of the largest stadiums in the world – although it would ultimately be built with a capacity of 78,000. Land for the stadium was purchased at Mulgrave, in those days just farmland, but one day predicted to be near demographic centre of Melbourne's population.
Geelong was the stand out team at the beginning of the 1950's, winning the Premiership in 1951 then setting an enduring record of 23 consecutive wins starting in Round 12, 1952 and ending in Round 13, 1953. This streak included the 1952 Premiership. Footscray became the first of the 1925 expansion teams to win the premiership in 1954.
Melbourne became a powerhouse during the 1950's and early 1960's under coach Norm Smith and star player Ron Barassi. The club contested seven consecutive Grand Finals from 1954 to 1960, winning five Premierships, including three in a row between 1955 and 1957.
Television coverage began in 1957, with direct telecasts of the final quarter permitted. At first, several channels competed through broadcasting different games. However, when the VFL found that television was reducing crowds, it decided that no coverage was to be allowed for 1960. In 1961, replays (in Melbourne) were introduced although direct telecasts were rarely permitted in Melbourne (other States and Territories, however, enjoyed live telecasts every Saturday afternoon).
The VFL Premiership Trophy was first awarded in addition to a pennant flag in 1959; essentially the same trophy design has been in use since.